air bellows outdoor art museum
My automatic pilot has been set on slow today. Real slow. Unto stopped. Started out getting a few things done, like preparing two new surfaces with gesso toward painting, and viewing videos from the Hillbilly Show toward putting them together in sequence. Like everything else in my life, I'm proceeding not knowing what I'm doing. An artist friend from the past told me he liked about painting that every painting is fresh, he's never done it before. Every painting is first time. Always starting from inexperience. Figuring everything out along the way, a step at a time. It's constant learning that doesn't seem like learning. It's learning by doing, by experience, the best teacher. I like that about making art objects, too. I'm working on a series of abstract, single color surfaces using plywood with a piece of corrugated cardboard glued to it, the whole surface one color. A little earlier, I mixed a color I like for the next one, a kind of rust color. If I were giving them titles, I'd call it Entropy. I'll number them rather than name them. I don't want to make up names for them, like Marakesh, something that sounds pretty and has zero connection to the piece. I'd rather number them as completed and let the number be the name. I don't like Untitled for a title, either. Numbers are good. The word Seven for a title of something unnameable beats calling it Portofino, something exotic. The number has relevance to the piece in its order. I want to see the progression from one piece to the next and see after twenty how they have changed, each one a step along the way of changes from one to the next.
5 by tj worthington
I like painting like this. It is akin to painting by not painting. I was feeling like figurative painting was like coloring books, painting inside the lines. I live in a place where there is no art market. No matter how nicely I try to make a painting, it only exists for itself. That's cool. I'm happy with that. Since this is the case, the painting only exists for itself, then I want to paint in a way there is no chance anybody will buy anything, even at yard sale prices. Wouldn't want one on their wall. At least in this time, I want my paintings to have no interest outside myself. I don't want them taken seriously. I want to do what I want to do right now, totally without regard for even feedback. I've become enchanted with a single color slathered on with a palette knife in random swipes of the blade leaving no patterns. The only pattern is the shape of the the plywood, so far rectangular, and the shape of the cardboard glued to the board, so far rectangular in different sizes. The raised cardboard piece takes a life of its own, a line of light around two sides and a line of shadow around the other two sides. A rectangle of light and shadow framing the painted cardboard that becomes a subject just by the association of being framed. I like the surface of corrugated cardboard too. I lay the paint on thick, use a large amount of paint, slashing strokes of the palette knife all over it, spreading the paint with only purpose being covering the gessoed surface without aesthetic consideration. One progression I'm seeing already, the first ones were done in basic colors, and quickly changed to mixed colors. I found a rust color today and will apply rust color to the next one I lay the paint on tomorrow. They're about color. I search until I find a color I love. That will be the next one.
6 by tj worthington
Perhaps I might have made this leap out of everything I'd done before, that's for sale into making things I don't want to sell. When I do a show of them, they'll all be NFS, not for sale. That eliminates thinking up prices for them. Or maybe I could do something radical like put ten dollars on each one. Wouldn't that be a riot. Some actually might sell. And all the artists around would hate me for setting a new low standard. If I want to get rid of them, I might do that. And I might not want to get rid of them. Might want to hang onto them, keep the series as a unit. That's kind of high sounding. I don't want to do that. I haven't even finished the series, so I'm not even going to conjecture what to do with them. Their purpose is to make works to my aesthetic satisfaction with intent that only a few will like them and of these few, none will buy one. I may have found it. Totally private painting, something I want to do that turns me on, and me only. Surely they will resonate with a few others, and that's how I would want it. NFS eliminates the aggressive statement as question: You want money for that? No I don't want money for it. I want it to exist as itself, something I made for myself that suits my aesthetic sense without regard for anyone else's. It's the only way I can find my own aesthetic expression. All that went before led, like stepping stones, to this place. I don't like the art market world. I am looking for my own aesthetic vision independent of marketing values, independent of expectation, independent of it being called a piece of shit. This is the most freeing approach I've found working visually. I've let the belief I needed to sell things hold me back from doing what is happening now. That's ok. Everything in its time. Now is the time for painting totally for my own eye.
4 by tj worthington
I have found great freedom in writing by keeping this almost-daily journal as blog going without regard for market, for selling it, for hoping to make money. It is for itself. It, too, exists for itself. I feel like my life exists for itself, is not about money. Seems like my visual aesthetic expression is best and freest done when no money is in the purpose, even anti-money the purpose. I see in the mind's eye the Air Bellows Outdoor Art Museum, the tunnel that goes under the Blue Ridge Parkway at the end of Air Bellows Gap Road. Completely free expression for the teens in the county who want to do some spray can graffiti art someplace. It has been several years of layer upon layer of new additions sprayed on top of what's already there. It has become a beautiful experience to drive through. I creep through, looking at both sides. I love about it that it has no single mind creating it. It is multiple mind input, spontaneous markings saying, I-was-here, hundreds of them sprayed on the collage of other people's markings made without aesthetic regard, random colors and lines covering every square inch of the surface. I see unselfconscious random splatterings. A conscious mind applying each color and line, while the whole has no theme but the individual markings made without regard for others around or under them. A totally receptive surface. It just happens as it happens. Every drive through it, I discover new shapes and lines in new colors. The only art gallery in the area and it new every time, changing, growing, organic, just one mile from where I sit. I like where my visual art is going with no intent to sell. I like writing almost daily with none of my motivation being money or to get ahead.
air bellows outdoor museum of art
photos by tj worthington